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Wimbledon Draw 2011: Nadal and Djokovic Steer the Field

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Wimbledon Draw 2011: Nadal and Djokovic Steer the Field


For the first time at the All England Club, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are the top two seeds. Defending champion Nadal will fight to collect his third hardware at this venue and his third French Open-Wimbledon combo. Djokovic who registered his maiden loss of the year at the previous major after a forty-one match unbeaten run will attempt to reach his first final at SW 19.

Two other competitors are also hoping to make history. Third seed Roger Federer tries to equalize Pete Sampras’ all time record of seven titles while fourth seed Andy Murray carries the aspirations of an isle on his shoulders. This fortnight, Murray aims to terminate his nation’s 75 year drought at its home major. Here’s the breakdown of the 2011 Wimbledon draw.

For world number one Nadal, it should be smooth sailing until the third round. In that session, the defending champion could be bothered by phenom Milos Raonic. Again in the round of 16, Nadal will be on crash alert with Juan Martin Del Potro his likely opponent. Consequently, there are various rocks along the road early on for the top seed.

In the quarterfinals, Nadal could face a rematch of last year’s final with Tomas Berdych. Considering Berdych’s average performance this season, the Spaniard should have the advantage. However, a semifinal against either Andy Roddick, a three time finalist, or Murray will be a harder challenge.

Having won the Queen’s Club trophy for the second time, Murray has once more found his mojo. Murray’s potential third round counterpart is Marin Cilic and either Stanislas Wawrinka or Richard Gasquet in the fourth round. While these are all worthy adversaries, Murray should have the upper hand.

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Nadal Balks Federer for Record Sixth French Open Title

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Nadal Balks Federer for Record Sixth French Open Title



For the second consecutive day, the French Open became a part of history as Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer 7-5,7-6,5-7,6-1 to equal Bjorn Borg with six French Open titles. Nadal also became the seventh man in the exclusive club of those with 10 or more major trophies.

The last time the two clashed in a final at a major was the 2009 Australian Open. This was the twenty-fifth meeting between Nadal and Federer, their fifth at Roland Garros and their fourth final.

In 2008, Nadal blew Federer off the court 6-1,6-3,6-0. After ending Novak Djokovic’s 2011 unbeaten run at 41 matches, Federer came in rejuvenated and relaxed, it was evident in the first set.

Subsequent to guarding serve, on a backhand error by Nadal, Federer had double break point. Despite Nadal getting to deuce, on his fourth opportunity, Federer seized the break and consolidated for 3-0.

After constructing a 5-2 advantage, as Nadal’s forehand sailed long, Federer had set point. However, with the dropshot missing its mark, Nadal was at deuce and later captured the game.

Serving for the initial set, Federer’s first serve which was instrumental in building his lead deserted him. Federer netted a backhand to hand Nadal break point. When the Swiss misfired on a volley after a passing shot, the players were back on serve.

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Djokovic Sandbags Nadal for Seventh Title of the Season

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Djokovic Sandbags Nadal for Seventh Title of the Season



Since 2005, Rafael Nadal has been the undisputed proprietor of the red dirt. Anyone intending to set up camp on his estate would have to muscle him out. This year, Novak Djokovic has come with eviction notice in hand. Djokovic stunned Nadal 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the Internazionali BNL D’Italia to collect his second straight clay ATP Masters 1000 championship trophy.

Last week, when Djokovic defeated Nadal in the final of the Mutua Madrid Open, it could have been dismissed as a fluke. Moreover, after being four points from kissing his perfect season goodbye and needing over three hours to get by Andy Murray in the semifinals, Djokovic appeared at a distinct disadvantage against Nadal. Yet this season, Djokovic, the 2008 champion in Rome, knows no limit.

After the first seven game of the match went to the server, Djokovic manufactured double break point when Nadal’s forehand sailed long. When the Spaniard flubbed the backhand, Djokovic captured the break for a 5-3 lead in the first set.

However, with Djokovic serving for the set, Nadal forced the Serb into a forehand mistake to arrive at double break point. When Djokovic dumped the forehand into the net, Nadal banked the break.

Unfazed by his prior miscue, Djokovic pressured Nadal and fabricated another break point. With a backhand crosscourt winner, Djokovic sealed the initial set.

Subsequent to easily holding serve, Djokovic obtained a break point in a game where Nadal was in control 40-0. After Nadal salvaged the first break point, Djokovic produced a second by inciting Nadal into a mistake. With Nadal slicing a backhand wide, Djokovic jumped to a 2-0 lead.

Although Nadal quickly broke to get back on serve, Djokovic kept the Spaniard on his back foot. Nadal had to erase double break point before squaring the set at 2 all.

It’s a strange sight witnessing Nadal being pushed around on clay, Djokovic had an answer to every shot. The angles the Serb generated were surreal, even the net courts were partisan with the majority favoring Djokovic.

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Del Potro Stifles Verdasco to Capture the Estoril Open Title

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Del Potro Stifles Verdasco to Capture the Estoril Open Title



The last time Juan Martin Del Potro competed on clay, he was battling Roger Federer in the 2009 French Open semifinals. Del Potro demonstrated that he can be a threat on this surface in Paris this year. The Argentine annihilated Fernando Verdasco 6-2, 6-2 for his second title of the season.

After failing to consolidate on an opening service break, Del Potro fabricated double break by forcing a backhand error from Verdasco. With the latter making another miscue, Del Potro went ahead 2-1. This time, with an ace at 40-0, Del Potro solidified his lead.

With Verdasco burying a backhand into the net, Del Potro again had double break point. Then, as Verdasco’s forehand flew long, Del Potro broke a third time for a 4-1 lead. By easily guarding serve his next two service games, Del Potro bedded the first set.

In the second set, Del Potro’s persistent power proved too much for Verdasco. Thus, as Verdasco’s forehand crosscourt went wide, Del Potro manufactured double break point. Del Potro burned Verdasco with a forehand crosscourt pass winner to break the initial game of the second set.

Once more with a comfortable hold, Del Potro moved in front 2-0. The Argentine consistency on serve meant that Verdasco had no break point opportunity.

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Still at Home in Monte Carlo: Nadal Records Seventh Straight Title

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Still at Home in Monte Carlo: Nadal Records Seventh Straight Title



After six time defending champion Rafael Nadal was pushed in the semifinals by Andy Murray to three sets lasting two hours and fifty-eight minutes, the question was whether the world number one would have enough left in the tank to get over the finish line.

In today’s final at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, compatriot David Ferrer made sure the “king of clay” did it the old fashion way. Nadal prevailed 6-4, 7-5 over Ferrer to earn his seventh successive trophy.

For the second year in a row, two Spaniards clashed in the final at this event. Last year, Nadal destroyed Fernando Verdasco 6-0, 6-1. Consequently, it was imperative for Ferrer to make his presence felt early on in the competition.

Subsequent to a forehand up the line winner to hold in the opening game, Ferrer produced a backhand crosscourt return winner for double break point. However, Nadal eventually overcame the deficit to guard serve.

Next, with Ferrer netting a backhand crosscourt, Nadal had double break point. On a second consecutive backhand miscue by Ferrer, Nadal seized the break for 2-1. Yet, with Nadal attempting to consolidate at 40-15, Ferrer provoked a few mistakes and got to deuce. Later, with a dropshot forehand winner, Ferrer broke to level the first set.

But, with a forehand down the line winner, Nadal had triple break point. On his third break opportunity, Nadal struck a forehand crosscourt winner to bag the break for 3-2.

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Djokovic Edges Nadal in Sony Ericsson Open Final

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Djokovic Edges Nadal in Sony Ericsson Open Final



Novak Djokovic kept his winning streak and perfect season alive today. Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal in the final of the Sony Ericsson Open 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 to win his second title in Miami and his fourth consecutive of the season.

It was the second week in a row that Nadal and Djokovic, world number one and two respectively, were meeting in a Masters 1000 final. The last time the top two players clashed for the title at this tournament in1995, number two Andre Agassi beat number one Pete Sampras in a third set tiebreaker.

With a backhand up the line pass for a winner on his second break point opportunity, Nadal obtained a 2-1 advantage. It was the first time, Djokovic had dropped serve this tournament.

After going down double break point, Nadal found the equalizer. The Spaniard survived another break point before consolidating for 3-1.

Then, Nadal captured a second break for 4-1. The Spaniard salvaged another break point before widening his lead to 5-1. Nadal dropped serve trying to close out the set the first time around. But, despite difficulties, on his second attempt Nadal banked the set.

After wasting multiple break points in the initial set, Djokovic aided by errors from Nadal seized the break for 2-0 in the second. Subsequent to wiping out a break point, Djokovic consolidated for 3-0 when Nadal’s slice backhand found the net.

Djokovic pressured Nadal on serve while having an easier time himself. At 40-0, Djokovic sent a beautiful lob for a winner to stretch his gap to 4-1. Ultimately, with an ace on triple set point, Djokovic threw the gauntlet for a deciding set.

The opening game of the third, Nadal overcame love-30 to hold. Serving at 1-2, Djokovic battled a similar predicament and got to 2 all. As the set progressed, despite a few 15-30 or 0-30 games, neither manufactured a break point. Fittingly, the championship was settled by a tiebreaker.

The first four points of the tiebreaker, neither competitor maintained serve. When Nadal double faulted, Djokovic had a mini-break at 3-2. With Nadal’s next two strokes sailing wide, Djokovic had a 5-2 cushion.

Following, Djokovic struck a forehand winner down the line for 6-2 and four championship points. Although Nadal won the next two points, on his third opportunity, Djokovic connected on forehand winner to pocket the trophy.

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Nadal Toasts Federer to Book His Spot in the Sony Ericsson Open Final

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Nadal Toasts Federer to Book His Spot in the Sony Ericsson Open Final



The much anticipated semifinal bout between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer at the Sony Ericsson Open failed to live up to expectation. In a one sided contest, Nadal destroyed Federer 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the final.

Nadal drew first blood in the first set. With Federer’s forehand up the line going wide, the Spaniard had double break point. Then, when Federer pushed a backhand into the net, Nadal had the break for 2-1.

Nadal consolidated easily for 3-1. Later, with Federer serving at 3-5, a litany of errors resulted in Nadal breaking for the second time to seal the opening set.

In the second set, with Nadal netting a backhand, Federer had his first break point of the night. However, with a net court winner off an overhead, Nadal was at deuce. Nadal went on to capture the game.

Subsequently, with a backhand down the line pass for a winner, Nadal had break point. He capitalized when Federer’s forehand found the net. With a prompt game, Nadal moved ahead 3-0.

The remainder of the set, Federer was just trying to tread water. The Swiss’ only window came at 1-3 and 0-30, but Nadal quickly shut it.

With Federer serving to prolong the match, miscues after miscues gave Nadal his first match point. As a result of Federer misfiring, Nadal booked his place into the final.

Federer committed 31 unforced errors while hitting 18 winners. Federer said in analyzing the match “I think it’s always a bit of an adjustment coming out and playing Rafa, any lefty, but him in particular. . . I warmed up with a lefty, Bob Bryan, and tried to get acclimatized as [much as] I could against him. It’s just hard”.

Federer went on “in the first couple games I got a break down, the conditions weren’t really favoring me. [It’s] slow [and] just makes it so hard to hit through him on a surface like this. Maybe you try to over hit a bit. Then, I started to make the wrong decisions on big points. . .and it’s not easy to come back. He played tough and he played well when he had to and I didn’t do that tonight. So it’s disappointing for me”.

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Can’t Stop Him: Djokovic into Fourth Successive Final

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Can’t Stop Him: Djokovic into Fourth Successive Final



In the semifinals of the Sony Ericsson Open, Mardy Fish hoped to pull an April fools’ surprise on Novak Djokovic with an upset. Unfortunately for Fish, the Serb was not game. Djokovic dominated Fish 6-3, 6-1 to reach his fourth straight final of the year and extend his winning streak to 25 matches.

Fish was the first to have double break point in the initial set. Yet, Djokovic took care of those to salvage the game. Then at 2 all and Djokovic serving at 15-30, the rain came.

Once the court was dried and the players picked up where they left off, Djokovic guarded serve and went ahead 3-2.

Soon, with Fish burying a volley into the net from a low forehand by Djokovic, the Serb had break point. Although Fish won the next point for deuce, with Djokovic connecting on backhand crosscourt pass for a winner, Fish faced the third break point of the game. When Fish netted a forehand in an extensive rally, Djokovic pocketed the break for 4-3.

Then, with Fish sending a return wide, Djokovic consolidated for 5-2.

Serving for the set, Djokovic dumped a forehand into the net to hand Fish double break point. Still, with Fish misfiring on forehand shot and backhand volley, Djokovic got to deuce and later shut the first set.

By double faulting in the opening game of the second set, Fish donated break point to his adversary. After saving one break point, Fish gifted another with a forehand volley error. With Fish’s forehand landing wide, Djokovic broke.

After comfortably consolidating and getting a 3-1 lead, Djokovic found himself with double break point when Fish’s backhand volley went wide. On Fish’s second backhand volley mistake in a row, Djokovic had his second break and a 4-1 advantage.

Subsequent to erasing a break point to get to 5-1, Djokovic provoked a series of miscues from Fish to arrive at double break point. By breaking Fish for the third time in the set, Djokovic clinched a berth into the final.

Fish was trying to defeat Djokovic for the maiden time in six attempts. Considering that Djokovic is unbeaten, it was perhaps an impossible task.

Maybe the tone of the match would have been different had Fish converted on his break point chances. Fish said “those were huge points. It was extremely disappointing. . . I thought I played well. . .down 63, 51 you look at the total points won and he’s only won like eight more points. I [just] didn’t win any of the big points. . . I left a lot shots out there today.”

Again, Fish confirmed that fellow competitors are amazed by what Djokovic has done so far “He’s not losing games. He’s crushing us. . . He doesn’t give you much out there at all. . . The matches are so long you’re bound to lose focus here and there. . . Sometimes for guys it’s games, for him it’s maybe a point or two at the most right now. He zones in pretty well”.

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer play tonight for a place in the final. In terms of Nadal or Federer being able to vanquish Djokovic, Fish cited “I think those guys are at another level than myself. . . [They] have played in matches like this before all the time. . . Certainly both guys can beat him; they came close at Indian Wells. . . You have to favor [Djokovic but] he’s got to lose sometime”.

After the match, Djokovic stated that he was glad for the rain delay “after I came back from the locker room. . . I felt different on the court. [The] first couple of games were quite strange. The wind was blowing, it was quite humid, just different conditions. . . I came into the match not really moving well, just lucky enough not to go a break down”.

Djokovic has yet to be broken this tournament and it’s been a difficult task for his competitors this year. The Serb was asked the secret to guarding serve in those pressure situation.

Djokovic responded “any time I was down break points. . .I served really well. That’s something that makes me happy. You [need] some luck as well in some moments”.

The last time Federer claimed a victory over Djokovic was at 2010 Barclays ATP World tour final. Federer’s three knockdowns this year have come at the hand of Djokovic. Nadal has met Djokovic once this year at Indian Wells and was the runner-up.

With a good hardcourt record against Nadal but having yet to surrender a match to Federer this season, does Djokovic have a preference as to whom he sees in the final? Djokovic answered “I don’t really know how to answer. Both have played great tennis over the years regardless of the surface. They’re such great competitors and tennis players that it doesn’t matter really. They always play at a very high level”.

Further, Djokovic said “in order for me to win the final. . . . I will have to be at the top of my game against either of those two players”.

On Sunday, Djokovic, the 2007 champion in Miami, will attempt to hold the Indian Wells and Miami titles simultaneously. An achievement that was last realized by Federer. Federer did it twice in 2005 and 2006.

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It’s official: Nadal and Federer in the Semifinals at the Sony Ericsson Open

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It’s official: Nadal and Federer in the Semifinals at the Sony Ericsson Open



Tonight in the quarterfinals at the Sony Ericsson Open, world number one Rafael Nadal collided with 2010 finalist Tomas Berdych. Nadal staved off Berdych 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to get to the semifinals against archrival Roger Federer.

With Nadal winning nine of the twelve meetings against Berdych and the last eight, the contest at first seemed a formality. Particularly the manner in which Nadal got out of the gates.

Nadal raced to a 3-0 advantage in the primary set by taking Berdych’s first two games. Then, by provoking a backhand miscue from Berdych padded his lead to 4-0.

With Berdych serving, Nadal hit an awesome forehand crosscourt pass off a backhand overhead by Berdych which summed up the miserable time that Berdych was having. Still, Berdych held to make the score respectable at 4-1.

While Nadal had no trouble carrying the set, the next couple of games, Berdych demonstrated that he finally awoke.

In the opening game of the second set, Berdych overcame double break point to maintain serve. Subsequently, when Nadal double faulted and had a forehand go long, Berdych had double break point. With a forehand up the line winner, Berdych grabbed the break for 2-0.

Then, Berdych consolidated for a 3-0 lead. During the changeover, Nadal called for the trainer and the Spaniard had his shoulder and neck attended to. After the treatment, Nadal held for 3-1.

Nadal received treatment again during the second set. In the eighth game, Nadal fought off two set points to guard serve for 5-3. However, with strong serving, Berdych closed the set with a love game.

Prior to the commencement of the third set, Nadal was manipulated by the trainer for the third time. By slicing a backhand long, Nadal stared at triple break point.

A mistake by Berdych and three consecutive aces gave Nadal game point. The Spaniard finished the game with a forehand volley winner.

Both players had relatively fast service games with no break point until the eighth game.

When Berdych dumped a forehand into the net after Nadal’s penetrating stroke, the latter had double break point. Nadal went up 5-3 when Berdych again netted a forehand.

As a result of a winner, Nadal arrived at triple match point. With Berdych’s backhand sailing long, Nadal wrote his name opposite Federer’s in the semifinals.

A conspicuously disappointed Berdych said “to break after winning the second set, that would have been a great chance for me. But, he just served unbelievably well. . . You can expect three or four aces from somebody like [Andy] Roddick or [Ivo] Karlovic. But from Rafa [not really], just too good for him”.

Still, Berdych said there are positives to take away from this encounter when asked by MiamiTennisNews.com “the matches since the last time I beat him, I had not won a set against him. . . I was trying something different today. Until maybe the last service game it was working pretty well and I had a good run”.

After the match, Nadal cited that it was unusual that his serve actually saved the match. Something that would not have been possible probably four years ago.

As far the right shoulder injury, Nadal stated that he felt a pinched nerve, something that had never occurred before. The Spaniard expressed that he just blocked out the injury in the third set. After all, it’s the quarterfinals of a Masters Series one of the most important tournaments.

Nadal felt confident that he would be well for the challenge of playing Federer tomorrow night. In their head to head, Nadal leads Federer 14-8.

Speaking of Federer, Nadal iterated that it’s always nice and “special” to play Federer. Over the years, they’ve developed a friendship and he does not view it as a “rivalry”. The two have battled in so many finals and he has great respect for Federer.

Nadal is in his second straight semifinal in Miami. In 2005 and 2008, Nadal advanced to the final but was stopped by Federer the first time, then surprised by Nikolay Davydenko the second.

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Federer Gets a Pass into Sony Ericsson Open Semifinal

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Federer Gets a Pass into Sony Ericsson Open Semifinal



The tantalizing prospect of a Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal semifinal at the Sony Ericsson Open was given a leg up by Gilles Simon. This afternoon, the Frenchman retired down 0-3 giving Federer a virtual walkover into the next round.

Simon produced three successive errors to hand Federer triple break point in the opening game. Then, with a forehand winner, Federer took the game.

After Federer had no problem on his service game, at double break point, Simon dumped a volley into the net. Consequently, Federer had another break and a 3-0 lead.

During the change over, Simon consulted the trainer. Following a brief discussion, Simon shook hands with Federer conceding the match.

The Frenchman was forced to retire due to a stiff neck. Simon explained that “ in the morning’s warm-up, I felt it. It’s a pain I have sometimes. I had it in Rotterdam one month ago. I couldn’t play either. . . sometimes I just wake up like that and cannot turn my head very much. . . I tried everything, anti-inflammatory [medications], hot cream. . . After the second forehand I tried to hit very hard; I felt [pain] very hard also. I knew I had no chance today”.

Simon stated that it’s a problem which dates back at least six or seven years. In fact, the first time it presented itself on tour was at a tournament in Madrid. Simon withdrew from the qualifying rounds.

Simon cited that the issue was not a consequence of the grueling fourth round match against Janko Tipsarevic. He was disappointed particularly having battled a knee injury last year which caused him to miss part of the season.

Moreover, Simon had a 2-1 record versus Federer coming into today. In fact, Simon pushed Federer to a fifth set at this year’s Australian Open after being behind two sets to love.

Considering their previous encounters, when Federer was asked “nice way to into the semis”. Federer responded “No, no. It’s not a whole lot fun honestly because you see the guy being booed off the court which he clearly doesn’t deserve. . . I think we played only fifteen points, so it’s not great”.

Federer continued by saying “we’ve played some funny matches against each other. The five setter this year. . . The second time around in Shanghai I came off a back injury and I couldn’t really play properly as well. The first time in Toronto which was basically a normal match. . . I don’t know what to say. I’m just happy to be in the semis at this point”.

Nadal and Federer have not played on U.S. soil since the ATP Masters in Miami in 2005, the first of two titles for Federer at this venue. Thus, the two meeting in the semifinals would be special.

On the topic Federer stated “If I play Rafa, we have many memories from playing amazing matches against each other. It’s not even that unusual that we play each other in the semis because it happened at the World Tour finals back in Shanghai”.

Also Federer iterated “I’m happy that I’m already a step further [than last year]. . . I would love to play Rafa clearly. I think it would be electric out there tomorrow night”.

Tomas Berdych and Nadal clash tonight for the a place in the semifinals.

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